Learn how to pronounce POOL and PULL: it comes down to the English VOWEL sounds. Feel comfortable using these words in English Conversation.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over the pronunciation of two similar words – pool and pull.
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This word pair is difficult. Thanks to those who requested this video. The only thing that’s different here is the vowel. Both words start with the P consonant and end with the dark L. The vowel in pool is the OO vowel and the vowel in pull is the UH vowel like in “book” or “sugar”.
First, let’s talk about the OO vowel. I hope you’ve seen my video that goes over the sound in detail. I’ll put a link to it at the end of this video. Basically, the lips start somewhat relaxed and come into a tight circle, oo, oo. The tongue lifts in the back. Let’s see what that looks like up close and in slow motion.
Pool. Lips pressed together for the P. They release and the lips come into a tight circle. This space in the mouth looks dark because the tongue is pulled up in the back. Now, the lips relax out and the tongue tip comes forward for the L.
Pool, pool Did you notice an “uh” sound before the L? Pool. That’s the dark L. The back of the tongue comes down from the oo position and shifts back just a little bit. It makes this sound. Uhl, uhl. This is the dark sound in the dark L, pool. The dark sound is made with the back of the tongue. What does the front part of the tongue do? Three options. I often leave the tongue tip down. I just make the dark part with the back of my tongue and that’s it. Rachel, uhl, uhl, uhl. I do not to bring the tongue tip up. But I could bring the tip of the tongue up into one of two positions after making the dark sound. Here at the roof of the mouth, uhl, Rachel. Or through the teeth. Rachel, uhl, uhl.
Let’s look again at the word ‘”pool” to see what the tongue does for the L. There, the tongue tip came up to this position.
Now, let’s study “pull”. The vowel here has a slightly different tongue position. The tongue rounds up in the back in the OO vowel but in the uh vowel, there’s a pullback as well. The lips round less for the UH vowel. Uh, uh Pull.
Let’s study it up close and in slow motion. Lips press together for the P. Lips flare for the vowel. You can see the tongue is lifted in the back. Now here, I take a different position for the L. I bring the tongue tip through the teeth. The final position of the dark L, if you choose to do it, here, or here, doesn’t matter. It doesn’t depend on the word. One isn’t right and one isn’t wrong. You can do either one and get the same sound.
Let’s watch again. Pool…and then, pull. Look at the difference in the lip position for the vowels.
Pool, Pull [2x]
Say that with me slowly.
Pool, Pull [2x]
Now let’s look at the two side by side. The lips are more rounded for OO. Here, you get to see both ending positions for the dark L. Again, lips are more rounded for the OO vowel. Jaw is more dropped for UH.
English has a lot of vowel sounds, maybe more than your own language. So it might be hard for you to hear the difference. But I hope you can see the difference in the mouth shape and imitate that.
And as you practice these words, don’t forget the dark L. Pull the back part of the tongue back to make the dark sound, it’s really important. Here’s the video I mentioned earlier on the OO vowel and here’s one on the UH vowel.
Actually, you might want to take a look at all of the vowel sound videos. They really illustrate the different positions. You can click here or in the description below.
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I have over 500 videos to help you speak better American English on my YouTube channel. Click here to visit my channel and subscribe or see this playlist to get started with my videos. The link is also in the description below.
Also, I have a great ebook. Two hundred and ninety pages with two and a half hours of audio. This book details my method for learning American English pronunciation. It organizes hundreds of my online videos for a path, start to finish, to help you speak beautifully and naturally. Click here or in the description below for more information and to purchase a copy. You’ll get free updates for life.
That’s it and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
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